This is the time of year when coaches get better – clinic season! I wasn’t able to get to as many as I normally do (missed the Las Vegas Glazier clinic this year), but I still have chances to learn. This Saturday I’ll be in Orange County at the Glazier clinic, listening to some OL topics, a Hudl topic, some quick game pass concepts and some zone read stuff.
As always, I’ll need to update my book list as well, because I know I’ll end up picking out at least one title to add to my library.
Nike is also having their Coach of the Year clinic here in March. I’m not sure I’m making it to that, as quite honestly I prefer the Glazier format of more varied speakers and more focused topics. But if I get the chance (i.e., someone comes through on a staff pass), then I’ll certainly take advantage of it.
Finally, in May, I’ll be over in Glendale AZ at LeCharles Bentley’s OL Performance World for his first-ever coaches clinic. I think that’ll be a unique experience to pick his brain. He’s limited it to 50 coaches, so I’m very happy to be in that group.
This past weekend, I watched for the first time a couple of episodes of “Friday Night Tykes”……wow – what a train wreck those people are. I’m not sure what season it was from, but I noticed the games were from 2013. I only saw two coaches out of everyone they showed – two – teach any technique at all, or coach in a positive manner. Those were the head coach of the Predators (for those of you who may follow the series) and the president/assistant coach of the Junior Rockets. The rest of those coaches were pure trash.
One coach thinks the game is all about him. After an opening 6-0 loss, he talked about it being the “worst day of his life” – really? He must have had a pretty soft life. Another coach encouraged his kids to chant “F____ the Rockets” before their game. Again….really? They wore t-shirts talking about being the “money team” and that it was time “to get paid”. His star RB would score a TD (he did seem fast and pretty shifty for a 8-9 year old), go over to the other team’s logo on the field and do some stupid movement over it. Again, the coaches were doing the same thing on the sidelines.
Now, in all fairness, I’ve never coached at the youth level of football, other than at a couple of clinics and camps. The “trash” coaches also happened to win the games I saw, while the two coaches I praised above lost their games. So I dunno….maybe at that level, at 8-9 years old, all you have to do is make your kids meaner than the other team – or make them more scared of you than the other team.
I ran into that type of coach once here in San Diego, when my son was looking to play. I never pushed him towards football, although I always did want him to try it. Finally, when he was 12 he told me he wanted to play. Up until that time, he was solely a baseball player. So I signed him up for the local Junior All American team. We were in Vegas with the Surge during the sign-ups, so I didn’t get to meet the coach. When I got back into town, I thought I’d call him up and introduce myself.
I gave him a call and things started off nicely enough. Then the coach said, “Well, I do have some concerns.” I said, “Oh? What are those?” “He’s never played before.” “Right – well, I don’t expect him to be an all star or anything, just coach him up.” “Well, Mr. Ring….you don’t understand. My team is full of ballers. All they do is play football year around.” “No, Coach you don’t understand. This is youth football. If he turns out to be just “a guy” then he that’s what he is. But it is your job to get him ready to play. I’ll help however I can on my end. He’ll do whatever you tell him to, to the best of his ability.” “Well, Mr. Ring I’m pretty sure that he won’t want to continue playing after the first couple of practices.”
I was floored….I hung up and immediately wrote a letter to the president of the league describing the conversation. It turns out that the president had been wanting to get rid of the coach for awhile, but she was waiting until his kids aged out. Well, that, plus he won a ton of games.
I was fortunate in that we found another league, La Jolla Pop Warner, that was included in our residential area. The coach there, Doug Brown, is the exact and total opposite of the youth coaches in FNT and the other SD coach. As it turned out, Travis was “just a guy” – playing football just wasn’t his deal. But he had fun, learned a lot and the team only lost one game all year, in the county championship. Coach Brown is extremely knowledgeable, and has spoken at several Glazier clinics (and will be this weekend) on youth topics.
Coach Brown wasn’t a “soft” coach by any means either. I was at several practices where he lit into guys. He was very demanding. BUT – he coached them, even when he was yelling at them. He taught proper tackling and blocking techniques – it wasn’t just about knocking the hell out of the other guy.
In my opinion, nothing good comes from shows like Friday Night Tykes. The coaches put on a show (or maybe not) and the kids are too young to know any better. The parents want their 15 minutes of fame as well. I doubt I’ll be watching again.